Rockabilly in the New Millennium

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Rockabilly has joined the ranges of deep-rooted musical subcultures in America. As with some other accepted music genres such as jazz, blues, bluegrass, and punk, a few core rockabilly bands are able to bring in regular but modest revenue, mainly by traveling and performing at festivals and clubs, and also by recording for indie record labels. Similar to the other subcultures, the rockabilly “scene” funds the livelihoods of musicians and their performances utilizing fanzines and social networking sites.

While no other rockabilly performers have climbed to the degree of large-scale fame enjoyed by the Stray Cats in the 1980s, the scene has developed further in the 2000s. There has been a considerable convergence with, and interaction between, the rockabilly scene and swing music scene. Brian Setzer (of the Stray Cats and the Brian Setzer Orchestra) assisted in joining these two subcultures, in that he was both a rockabilly musician and a swing musician. Different artists, such as Trick Pony, Danny Dean and the Home wreckers, (trio influenced by both rockabilly and honky-tonk styles), The Reverend Horton Heat, Rattled Roosters, and Royal Crown Revue were also favorites amongst both scenes.

There are lively rockabilly scenes in several major US cities, especially on the west coast; as well as large festivals such as Viva Las Vegas and Hootenanny and the Heavy Rebel Weekend festival on the east coast. Rockabilly lovers have attained a shared cause with hot rod car culture, and many festivals have both music and classic car shows with a 1950s flavor. With the emergence of satellite and internet radio, there are routine broadcast outlets for rockabilly music. The not-for-profit Rockabilly Hall of Fame was created March 21, 1997 to remember the early rockabilly music and to encourage those who would like to carry on rockabilly music popularity and availability into the future.

In Europe, rockabilly stays a spirited and dynamic subculture, with heavy interest not just in contemporary revivalist musicians, but as well as in performances and recordings by living artists from the 1950s. A considerable cause for the persisting phenomenon of new generations discovering and adopting rockabilly is their dissatisfaction with mainstream culture, music, and stylistic icons. Rockabilly frequently becomes a way of life or lifestyle to those active, who see the larger scene to be like a family. The rockabilly lifestyle is not restricted to only the music but also the home furnishings, cars, and even small things like the cigarettes smoked. The rockabilly culture is an antithesis to current trends as it embraces its roots in “old school” societal fringes. 50’s movies ‘The Wild One’, James Dean’s ‘Rebel without a Cause’ concentrated in countries like USA, Australia, New Zealand, UK, and also in the rest of Europe.

In the United Kingdom revival of Teddy Boy styles and in the United States, rockabilly fans have preferred the greaser look, in which men have flashy pompadour hairdos, with tons of hair pomade and long sideburns , in addition they comb their hair straight back however the pompadour is the most beloved look. For clothing, men wear tight jeans or black pants, brothel creeper shoes, slim ‘bolo’ neckties, belt buckles and leopard-skin accessories. Also rockabilly men have embraced1950s-style clothes, such as bowling shirts, gas station “work” shirts, cowboy shirts, and Hawaiian shirts, as well as the leather motorcycle jacket.

Women style in the rockabilly community has not brought back the proper 1950s look of poodle skirts and letter sweaters. Yet the alluring 1950s dresses, sometimes made with crinolines, have gained some favor.


write by Athena Nguyen

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